By Frank Luna

Got an early start Monday morning walking the beautiful grounds at the Del Paso Country Club.

The last time I was here was for the Women’s US Open in 1982. After a complete redesign, I must say the course has much more character and grace.

The pristine fairways and fast rolling greens, coupled with the thick, sticky rough, remind all this is a USGA Championship.

After watching the barren, links-like Chambers Bay course for the US  Open, Del Paso Country Club is smooth drink of water, lush, green and well shaded.

It was a sparse turnout of both players and spectators for the early practice rounds this morning.

With the smaller crowds, I saw some of the players engaging in light conversation with the people in the galleries.

At one point, on the 165 yard par 3, Esteban Toledo challenged anyone in the gallery to hit a ball closer to the hole than he.

One brave man, I’d say in his early sixties, stepped up and borrowed a hybrid club and after a few warm up swings, proceeded to slap a ball just short of the green and a beautiful roll out to within about 30 feet of the hole.

Toledo stepped up and backed off a couple of times, claiming the challenger’s shot put a lot of pressure on him, to the delight of the growing crowd watching the spectacle.

Of course, Toledo then proceeded to shape a perfect shot to flag with enthusiastic approval from the surrounding gallery.

Just another morning at the US Senior Open in Sacramento.